Legends of the Fall: Theological Reflection on Gen 2-4 (Part four)
This continues our reflection on the poignant narrative of Genesis 2-4
In response to the serpent’s question, “Did God really say…?”, Eve answers insipidly by parroting God’s instructions from 2:16-17. Tellingly, she adds the clause “and you must not touch it.” This may seem like a minor change or perhaps even a helpful addition, but it indicates already that Eve (and perhaps Adam) has already traded in a relationship of trust with the living God for a stale legalism in which God burdens people with petty rules and regulations that seem out of touch with culture and the times.
The game is now on and the serpent takes the next step. The move is from â€œDid God really say?â€ to a denial of God’s truthfulness. Look at 3:4-5 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” What a profound move! From doubt about what God has said to doubt about God’s character and Godâ€™s motives. If it is tough to lead and live apart from a vital relationship with God rooted in God’s revelation in Scripture, try to serve in ministry under a cloud of doubt about God’s intentions and actions.
Is this a reasonable jump? I think so. The problem with God-talk is that it offers a substitute for the Real Thing. God-talk soon turns to a denial of Godâ€™s trustworthiness and faithfulness.
You Can’t Trust God
The serpent now flatly denies God’s claims in Genesis 2 that eating of the fruit will cause death. Moreover, the serpent implies that God in fact does not have Eve’s best interests at heart. In sum, God cannot be trusted.
A lack of trust in God will take the wind right out of the sails of any person seeking to follow after the way of Jesus. Trust is absolutely crucial. God calls Christian leaders to dream big dreams and to lead others into life changing, paradigm-shifting, and world altering ministries. To engage Godâ€™s will fully and courageously, we need to know and trust that God has our best interests at heart.
Think of some of the areas and times in which trust in God is vital:
–a call to give sacrificially to some project when you are struggling financially
–a decision to move oneâ€™s family in order to follow the call of God
–you make a commitment to follow God and things arenâ€™t going particularly well
–the courage to speak truth in love to individuals or a congregation
–the need to stand up to oppressive and abusive persons when you know that no one will have your back
The bottom-line is this: How do we follow a God who says, â€œDeny yourself and take up your crossâ€ if we don’t truly trust that this God ultimately has our and all creationâ€™s best interests at heart?
What is left when trust of God diminishes? This is precisely the time at which we assert our own will, our own rights. We let our own experiences determine the road upon which we will travel. If we seek to lead apart from a trusting relationship with God, we are in grave danger and we put those around us in grave danger, who trust us as Christian leaders. We risk reliving the experiences of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3. We risk paradise lostâ€¦
1) Do you trust that God has your best interests at heart?
2) What are some areas in which you are struggling to trust God at the present time?
Â© 2006 Brian D. Russell